The word "khana" in Indian Khana Made Easy means food. So come on, let's explore and cook some easy Indian food together including gluten-free and vegan dishes.


May 31, 2011

Is It Summer...Already?

Wow, I can't believe it's been almost a year since we last posted about our summer treats. Just to recap, last year we shared a few recipes that we knew would fill your stomachs such as the Aloo Papdi Chaat and Aloo Tikki Chaat and cool you down like the Roohafza Milkshake. It's just nice to see the sun out and warming everything in sight. I know I missed it dearly; I was sick of all the cold and rainy weather. This year we have a few more up our sleeves that are not only going to turn heads but more importantly keep you refreshed and feeling healthy. Here's the rundown of the upcoming delights in store for you:

- Rosy Spritzer
- Veggie Boats
- Rainbow Salad
- Desi Green Curry

So keep a lookout!

May 18, 2011

The Many Uses Of Coconuts

I recently attended a South Indian wedding where the girl's family gifted each of these intricately etched coconuts to the family members of the guy's side (Yay to me). I liked it so much I thought I would share it with you too. They even attached these beaded pins at the bottom so it can be displayed on flat surfaces. I've seen fruit being carved into designs but I've never seen it on a coconut. Now that is a work of art I can appreciate.

Just look at the detail!
I believe that the coconut is a very versatile fruit. Its oil can be applied to the hair to make it more shiny and smooth. Usually the water inside the coconut is very sweet and so most often consumed and then the tender flesh is scooped out and eaten. As you can see in the photograph above, even the dried coconuts are used to make decorations or works of art. The oil and milk are also used in cooking. For our cooking purposes, we mainly use shredded coconut (fleshy part) and in various dishes such as Undrallu or Steamed lentil and rice dumplingsRice Kheer, and for today's discussion, coconut rice. Coconut Rice hails from the Southern part of India; specifically from Andhra Pradesh. This rice dish has a bit of everything; lentils, nuts, spices, and even vegetables. Now it's important to remember that too much of a good thing is never a good thing. When we post about rice dishes, we're not promoting that one should eat rice everyday but that it's good to try new things.

Ingredient List:
1 cup of Cooked Rice                                     
- 15-20 halves of Cashew nuts                                     
- (4-5) sliced Green chilies
- ½ cup of Fresh grated coconut                    
- 1 tsp each of Mustard /Cumin seeds                 
- 2 tbsp of Vegetable oil                                     
- ½ cup frozen of Carrot & peas                                   
- 5-6 leaves of Curry leaves                                       
- 1 tbsp of Coriander seeds                                               
- 2 Dry Red chilies                        
- 1 tsp of Urad dal (black gram)                  
- 1 tsp or as needed of Salt

1) In a small sauce pan, fry coriander seeds, red chilies and urad dal with an ½ tsp oil for 5 min or until the aroma of coriander seeds come out. Cool the mixture and grind to a powder and set the spice powder aside.
2) Heat oil in a skillet on medium and fry cashews until light golden, add mustard & cumin seeds. When they splatter, add curry leaves and green chilies. Fry for a minute. Add salt and rice, mix well for 2 minutes. Then add the spice powder (from step 1), grated coconut and carrots & peas. Mix again and cook under low to medium heat for 5 minutes.
3) Serve hot.

***Quick Tip: We use a lot of spices in our dishes to elevate the flavor of the dish. If you don't have a big spice rack or variety of spices, you can substitute whatever you like. Also, freshly grated coconut can be found in most Indian stores, otherwise you can grate it yourself.                                                       

May 15, 2011

Hester Street Fair

It's that time of the year again...the start of the street fairs season. I love it! It gives me a chance to get outside, stretch my legs, and support the local talent. The day before Mother's Day, I attended the Hester Street Fair's grand opening day in New York City. I made an excuse to go to the fair just so I could get something for the two special ladies in my life, my mom and grandmother. My friend and I took our time strolling through the fair; taking in all the sights, sounds and smells. I even found some things for the ladies so I wouldn't go home empty-handed. Here are just a few of the highlights:

As we walked into the fair grounds, we that the first stall was adorned with these beautiful mini garden creations, which are custom designed by Ms. Vashali Maria. They are perfect for all kinds of spaces and gardeners-at-heart, whether you live in a small city apartment or have a greenhouse. I love this idea of bringing inside "a piece of nature" into your home and enjoying it all year around.
Next up are the simple and colorful Indian wooden block print designs on clothing, accessories, and home furnishings by Juli Raja. I found some great gift items for my friends' kids (cute lil dresses and shirts for boys).
While we visited a few more of the stalls, we heard some weird sounds coming from nearby and realized they were from our own stomachs...we were really hungry from all the walking.
We came across a stall called  La Sonrisa where they were frying empanadas and so we tried one that was filled with coconut curry chicken. It was pretty good. The outside texture and crunchiness of the snack reminded me of these sweets from India called Kajjikayalu or Gujiya which are usually filled with coconut and jaggery. We also had the opportunity to sample some watermelon sorbet where the chefs used nitrogen liquid as the freezing agent as we have seen often on shows like Iron Chef America.
After we sampled more savory treats like cheddar and jalapeno topped pretzels from Sigmund Pretzels and soft tacos from Brooklyn Taco Co., we headed over to Melt Bakery for some dessert. We decided ahead of time we would buy one item from each of the stalls, so we could try more. So at the Melt Bakery, we chose the peach ice cream and brown butter burbon shortbread cookie sandwich. The sweetness of the shortbread cookies complemented the tangy flavor of the ice cream (the one on the far left). It was a winner in my book.
On our way out of the fair, I saw Roni-Sue Chocolates and became super excited. I sampled their chocolate creations at the 2009 Chocolate Show and so I knew how delicious their chocolates were. They didn't have my favorite chocolate and so we went to their store located inside the Essex Market.
I bought a dozen box of truffles for Mother's Day and my friend bought a couple of nickel bags of bacon chocolate for himself and his friends. The next day, I surprised the ladies with a special breakfast and lots of "sweet" love.

Overall, I had a great time at the fair. The food prices were reasonable and fun to learn about the various cuisines and sweet treats. The business owners were really friendly and informative. So, you haven't checked it out yet, go for it. The Hester Street Fair is open every Saturday from 10am-6pm until October. It is located between Hester and Essex streets in Lower East Side, NY. 

May 10, 2011

Mother In Mind...

Although, mothers should be remembered all the time, I feel that sometimes people remember them even more on Mother’s Day. It almost becomes compulsory to do something extra ordinary on that day. Of course, I am guilty of that as well. Every year, my sister and I pitch in and order my mom flowers. However this year, we went a different route and ordered her an Azalea Bonsai plant to add to her newly sowed garden in our new place. Ever since we moved from our old house, my mom has been reminiscing about her flower garden and how much effort she put into it to bring it to its handsome beauty. And now she has to do it all over again. We thought the bonsai would help her to cope with the loss of the garden and encourage her to add to her collection in the new place. We also ordered Spring Tulips for my grandmother since she is staying with us for a while. They both loved the floral arrangements which are now proudly being displayed in our house. YAY!! I also prepared a healthier version of IHOP’s Belgian Waffle Combo for the two special ladies. I served them a plate of toasted waffles with fresh cut strawberries and bananas. A small gourmet cookie platter with their favorite nutty cookies and more fresh fruit was also served with breakfast.
Since it’s also been a few years since my grandmother came to visit us around this time, my mom made her favorite dish, vada and sambhar*. She soaked the lentils overnight and made the do-nut shaped vadas after her relaxing breakfast.
Oh, what a sight!!
They were both busy for the rest of day since many of our relatives and friends called to wish them for the occasion…just the way it should be.

***The vada and sambhar are very popular in Southern India. Vada is a savory fritter served as a snack but it can be eaten as a meal when dipped in sambhar (spicy lentil and vegetable soup). 

May 2, 2011

*~*Bhalle Bhalle Chole*~*

This is so much more than your meat and potatoes. It's a dish that can be made fairly easily and because it is made with chick peas, you can rest assured that you are eating a protein enriched meal. I don't know why but every time I eat chole, it makes me want to break into a step. Not just any step, but a Bhangra how these guys are doing it here : That's why it's called Bhalle Bhalle Chole. I find that a lot of North Indian restaurants serve this with what looks like an over-sized poori except it is actually a batura. Baturas are made from all-purpose flour, whereas pooris are made from wheat flour. Anyways, this post isn't about batura, it's about chole and all its goodness. I know you are on the edge of your seats waiting for me to tell you the steps to making this dish, so I'll stop here:

  • 1lb 13oz Can Goya Chick Peas, (chole chana/garbanzos)         
  • 2 large Tomatoes (red & firm), finely chopped or crushed
  • 1 medium Potato, microwaved to firm/soft (4min)
  • 1 large Onion, chopped finely or grated
  • ½ tbsp Ginger/Garlic paste
  • 1 tbsp MDH Chana Dal Masala*
  • ¼ cup Fresh coriander
  • 1 tsp or as needed of Salt
  • 2-3 tbsp Vegetable Oil

1) Open the chick peas can and transfer the contents into a colander and drain well. Wash the chick peas under running water to wash off all the salts and preservatives.
2) Heat oil in a heavy bottomed pan (pressure pan) or a non-stick saucepan and add grated onion. Fry the onions till golden brown. (Hint: Add a ¼ tsp of sugar to help the onion caramelize quickly). Add ginger garlic paste and mix for 2 min.
3) Now add crushed tomatoes and cook for 2-3 minutes. Now add the drained chick peas, potato (chopped into cubes), chana masala and salt. Then add half a cup of water. 
Mix well and cook on medium heat with closed lid for 7-10 minutes until cooked well. If using pressure pan, cook under pressure for 6-7 minutes.
4) Add chopped coriander and serve with hot pooris or warm rotis.
Actually now that I think about it, chole was served at the Diwali celebration at my mom's work last year and it was a big hit. Amongst all the items made for the event, most people came back for second servings for this one.

***Quick Tip: You can substitute chana masala with garam masala as well. If garam masala is not available, then add your own blend of spices to bring more flavor to this dish. Also, if you do not have raw tomatoes, you can use can of crushed tomatoes or salsa.